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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  December 13, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PST

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i'm joy reid filling in for the lovely alex wagner. msnbc political analyst and editor at large at and also my pal joan walsh politico senior political editor maggie haberman and time assistant managing editor rona. with christmas less than two weeks away it's seeming more likely that america will see santa claus before it sees a deal on the fiscal cliff. the house majority and minority leaders issued a clear message today and yesterday don't book your plane tickets. >> we don't know if we would be home for the rest of hanukkah or christmas. let's really get real about this if we're going to have a solution, and let's stay here and sit at that table. >> we've said we're committed to staying here. we're going to stay here right up until christmas eve throughout the time and period before the new year. >> there are no talks scheduled today between the president and
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house speaker boehner. meanwhile, fed chairman ben bernanke, the man who coined the term fiscal cliff, urgently warned that just approaching the edge is causing damage. >> why is it that consumer confidence dropped so sharply this week? why is it that small business confidence dropped so sharply? why are the markets volatile, even though we're not yet even reached the point of the fiscal cliff potentially kicking in? it's already affecting business investment and hiring decisions by creating uncertainty or creating pessimism. >> a new nbc news wall street journal poll finds that nearly half the country does not think a deal will be reached. by a 2-1 margin, voters trust the president to handle the negotiations over speaker boehner. the last speaker of the house nancy pelosi had some stern advice for mr. boehner. >> you can bring a bill to the floor that the republicans don't have to vote for except for 25 of them. i had to do it as speaker. do you know what it was like to
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bring a bill to floor to fund the war in iraq. it's tough, but you have to do it, so is the point that you don't want to put your members on the spot. figure it out. we did. figure it out. you ask me about what i do. that's what i did. that's what i did. it was very unpopular, and i have to tell you, i'm not sure i ever recovered amongst some on the left. >> this morning the speaker brought a visual aid to bolster his argument that democrats aren't conceding enough many spending cuts. the time crunch seemed to be getting to him. >> here we are at the 11th hour, and the president still isn't serious about dealing with this issue right here. it's this issue. spending. >> and the deal certainly has its perils for john boehner, especially with the election for his speakership happening january 3rd. some of his members are already defecting, including michigan congressman justin amash who said yesterday, "if speaker
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boehner wants to come back to my district, he is not going to to be met with very much welcome." both striking a deal or failing to do so could cost him his speakership, but in the eyes of the american people, will he find a way to preserve consumer confidence and tax cuts for 98% of america or will he end up becoming the unseasonably tanned grinch who stole christmas? joining us on that note from capitol hill is nbc's luke russert. luke, you know, boehner is in sort of a no-win situation, right? if he cuts a deal, then the justin amash's of the world who politico put in the category of something that rhymes with bass coal, and if he doesn't cut i a deal, then the american people hate him and blame him for the tacks going up. what can boehner do? >> i think that a lot of that consternation on the right is going towards john boehner is a little bit overplayed. surely, there are folks who are angry at him, but his speakership is not in any serious jeopardy at this time. what i find interesting here, though, joy, especially coming
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out of the press conference with speaker boehner just now, is he neglected to answer head on questions about whether or not he would allow a bill that would go to the floor that who lower rates for those making $250,000 or below, and what we're hearing on capitol hill is this idea from republicans that, look, we're not going to win this fight on taxes right now. let's allow the president to have his tax rates on the wealthiest earners go up. however, we're not going to give him a single other priority of his that he would like to see in this type of deal, like unemployment insurance. we're not going to give him anything like a payroll tax cut, and we're going to move to the debt limit in order to try to have a real serious discussion about the fiscal path of this country. john boehner said today, "the debt limit should be used for fiscal sanity here in washington d.c." that's somewhat of the republican idea here. it's a way from having a big deal. it's a way from perhaps going over the cliff entirely. it's, all right, maybe we give them the 250,000 or below, and then we live to fight another day on the debt limit.
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if that happens, what does that mean for the markets? it brings washington to its knees again, and we try to ask nancy pelosi about that today. she declined to answer questions about the debt limit, but if you see that fight play out in the early part of 2013, what does it mean, the obama administration, the priorities they would like to see, it looks like the debt limit right now is very much this political football same as it was in 2011. >> thank you. i want to quickly bring in the panel because what you are saying brings me to a point that's been kind of bothering me about this whole discussion. republicans keep saying that what the democrats -- what the president sht bringing to the table are enough cuts, but they never seem to want to specify what those are. daniel had a piece in the "wall street journal" where he was talking about he wanted the republicans to be -- if we could put up that full screen. he said "republicans lost the election, but does that mean republicans have to help barack obama dismantle their party by letting its most basic conservative principles disappear into the beltway smoke and mirrors?
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why is it not possible for boehner or anyone else in this party to articulate for the dumbstruck public watching these dreadful cliff negotiations what the republican party stands for? well, who speaks for the gop?" you know, nicolas, i'll throw this over to you. john boehner says he wants specificity, and he wants to articulate the republican conservative point of view of what this deal should look like, but luke russert just mentioned, he hasn't said a specific thing they want to cut. >> the whole problem here is that the public is not in favor of the things that you would have to cut to save the kind of money they want to save. you can tell a lot of stuff for poor people. they don't have a lot of political power. you can cut defense contractors and you can cut from the middle class and seniors, which is very hard and dangerous. nobody wants to be the first, and there are some on the left who argue it's a terrible idea on the merits. that i think is where you have kind of the kind of broader impasse. >> this is where also the republican brand damage of this last election is a huge factor. that is a lot of what you are seeing in those poll numbers
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where the public feels that obama has a bigger mandate is not the word i want to use, but you know what i mean. has a bigger sense of proprietity in his terms of his negotiations. it's not just a problem that gop is having. i think if we go over the cliff and go into the beginning of next year and there is not a deal in place, it is not as if this is a cakewalk for the administration either. this is not the tone they would like to start out on. i think -- >> but do they have a choice? who is setting the tone? >> right. >> as much as i see this president for four years try to compromise and even engage around the debt ceiling in 2011, it didn't earn him any political capital with republicans. he earned political capital when he got re-elected and ran on those tax cuts explicitly, and he ran on protecting social security. they wouldn't even run -- i mean, it's what nick said. even during the election, they were afraid to run on what they really believed in. >> i want to ask you, because
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this is a specific question. >> yeah. >> who speaks for the gop, but who is willing to say out loud we want to cut social security, medicare, and medicaid, we want to voucherize these programs? who in the gop is willing to even do that? >> i'm not sure yet. it goes to the point that nick made earlier. these are politically very difficult things to say. the mortgage interest deduction. that would hit a huge amount of people. all homeowners almost in america. you can look back. i have to say, though, i think the republicans have themselves to blaik blame on this because two years ago the president was offering a much more favorable ratio to them in terms of cuts and revenue increases, and now it's more of a one-to-one ratio, and that was his mandate. i'll say, though, that the think the debt ceiling issue is huge. it's going to be huge for markets. the worst thing for the economy is this on again-off again thing. >> right. >> i think that you can see earlier the clip from ben bernanke feeling like is he the last man standing in washington that can keep the economy going. you saw just yesterday that he said he is going to keep interest rates low until unemployment hits 6.5%, which is
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a real -- >> it's terrific. >> it's very dramatic for the fed. very dramatic. it shows the real importance of the situation. >> and he has to stay relevant. i want to go to luke russert. just on the question of timing. if this can't be done this week, can it be done at all? just the mechanics of having to bring i bill to the floor if boehner can't find a way to bring his caucus along and cut a deal this week, can it be done before the end of the year? >> a large scale deal, most likely not. that would be very difficult. from sources on both sides, they've said to me that there's going to have to be some sort of bridge, and that's what we call on capitol hill something to sort of get it into the next year, then where they could maybe have some strict numbers in place, and then have a more prolonged bill that would go further into 2013. it's possible to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. every day that goes by it's harder and harder to have a wide-ranging deal that would deal with a ton of these different intricate details as tax reform and entitlement cuts.
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one thing before i go, i'll just tell you, you guys, i think the debt limit is really going to play into this because the republicans see that as really their only negotiating chip they have here. if president obama wants to avoid a debt limit fight, he is going to have to give a lot on entitlements, and that's where i think the fight is going to become -- the tax issue is obviously still there, but they want to see in exchange for higher tax rates, some sort of entitlement cuts, and they'll try to use the debt limit as that bargaining chip. what does that mean for the economy? this is long away from a over. >> luke, really quickly, do republicans really feel that putting forward entitlement cuts will make them more popular with the american people? do they think having this fight is a good idea politically? >> if they have entitlement cuts as part of this deal, they would make it through their marketing ways and there are better communications operatives than democrats, as we all discussed, that the president would own the entirement cuts. they're not worried about that. they would say the president owns that in 2014 and 2016. i mean, look at how they did
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that with the defense cuts as part of the sec quester. remember those ads that romney ran? these are the president's defense cuts. they do the same thing. these are the president's entitlement cuts. they don't worry about that at all. >> oh, my god. right? and oh, my god. >> we call it regifting at the holiday time. >> thank you very much. after the break, governor creri snyder puts on the gloves, but he may have to prepare for a real heavy weight bout in 2014. we will enter the right to work ring when the president of the sciu joins us live next on "now." as you can see, geico's customer satisfaction is at 97%. mmmm tasty. and cut! very good. people are always asking me how we make these geico adverts. so we're taking you behind the scenes. this coffee cup, for example, is computer animated.
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stung about michigan's decision to ramp through a controversial right to work law, unions are preparing to fight back. how? revenge. in two years. michigan afl-cio president carla swift told the detroit free press, "the sleeping tiger is awake now. we have 2014 as a goal to shift out and win justice." in other words, they're gearing up for a major battle to oust michigan's republican governor rick snyder in 2014 as well as conservative politicians who swept into statehouses across the country in 2010. according to politico, unions already have the infrastructure in place to wage battles outside michigan in states like pennsylvania and wisconsin where they unsuccessfully fought earlier this year to recall prn governor scott walker. joining us now from washington is a look at labor strategy going forward is the president of the service employees international union, sciu, mary kay henry. mary kay henry, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> so give us an insight into
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this strategy. obviously the union movement going directly after ohio and wisconsin and now in michigan, so give us a strategy in 2014. what does sciu and sister union, what do you plan to do? >> we think we need to make the case to the people of michigan and all across this country that wage inequality is the number one problem our nation needs to solve, and in michigan that means joining hands between the million union members, a million more community partners and galvanizing two million people to hold our elected officials in michigan accountable to rebuilding the middle class, and you don't rebuild the middle class by tearing unions apart. so we have to have a multi-year, multi-pronged approach. we need to celebrate wal-mart strikers for jobs they can support their families on. we have to work with business that 79s wants to work with us because we need to put more
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money in workers' pockets so people can start spending again, and we can help speed economic recovery in this -- in michigan and all across the country. >> well, i mean, you are talking about the message there, and obviously, the unions will mount a messaging campaign against what governor rick snyder did, but many terms of infrastructure, if you look at the three states where this battle has played out, the only one where unions have been successful in beating back the legislation is in ohio where it just so happens that police and firefighters were not exempt from the legislation. they were exempt in wisconsin. they they are exempt in michigan. you lack sort of that piece of the messaging strategy, so what are you going to do specifically in michigan? do you have, you know, already phone banks going? are you guys going -- what is your strategic plan beyond just messaging to working people? >> i think it's that we have to organize at a level and depth we've never done before. there's a million people that are parts of unions in michigan. we're going to reach out to every one of them. we're doing a training today. we're going to do one-on-one
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conversations like we do in electoral activity to get every member to resign a card both for political action and for union membership, and make sure we register people to vote. we think the reason we won in ohio is baugh because bargaining matters for building the mrilgdz class, and it's the questions in michigan and in wisconsin were about candidates and issues, and so that's we think we need to expand this fight beyond simply electoral strategy and include private sector organizing, community organizing, and building a force that overtakes this right wing agenda to disimagines unions, not just in those three states, but all
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across this country. >> hold on just one second. the reason that i asked the sciu president about what their strategy is beyond messaging is part of the problem for unions that it depends on what kind of union you are talking about, how much support you get? in michigan you are talking about autoworkers. >> right. >> in ohio you were talking about police, firefighters, people who are generally popular. when you are talking about teachers, nurses, the kind of people represented by sciu, you kind of get one vibe from the public, but when you talk about teamsters and autoworkers, you get another. >> i have never heard as much conversation as i've heard in the last week over, wow, you know what, if you take a grab and you look in the 1970s as when wages -- average wages,
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started to decline for workers and you put another number in there and another line and it's unionization rates and those two things go down almost together in lock step, i mean, that's true, and it's a really graphic example of why unions matter. >> absolutely. i think mary kay's point about how you really can't have a sustainable recovery unless you put more money in the pockets of the average worker. if you think about it, our economy is made up 70% of consumer spending. right? in the last three years 90%, 93%, actually, of all of the wage gains in this country have gone to the top 1%. you can do the math. you can't have a sustainable recovery with dynamics like that, and i think that's a very important point. >> well, i want to ask you about -- i think most americans agree with those points and that people are on the side of working people, at least they were in this election. those messages work for democrats, but maggie, just from a practical political point of view, democrats are now losing these battles in states that obama won handily.
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they're losing them in places like wisconsin and michigan. do democrats have to worry that republicans will just say we don't care about any of that, we don't care about what you just said about working people. we have the power to do this, and we're going to do it right. we're going to do right to work because it hurts our biggest political opponent, the unions. >> i think that in terms of whether this spreads to other states, i think it will be a wait and see, right? remember that snyder had telegraphed he wouldn't do this. this is very, very surprising. i think that we are going to see what the full-out is from this before we find out how broad this is going to be. i think that you are seeing something of a split. i think that as has been discussed here, the election in 2012 showed that romney lost the fight for the middle class, right? he lost the fight for not just messaging, but on policy on middle class. he couldn't make a convincing case. republicans up and down the ticket had this problem. however, earlier a couple months earlier, you had the bad defeat for labor in terms of the walker recall, so i think that this is why you are not seeing right now an effort to do something similar. i think there is a chance that you will see something like this spread, but this is not really
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where -- republicans are not embracing this right now. >> can i just say -- >> i disagree. >> there's a really considered effort over several years, over five or six years, among the gop, to build an infrastructure to win state elections. >> it's not a state and state thing. it's a national infrastructure to take money from all the big donors around the country and win elections at the state level. this happened in michigan because they have the votes, because they controlled the ledge, and the governor's office. power begets power, and you can win when you actually have the votes. that's what really happened here. it was in the works for a long time. it wasn't that it just happened. it was in the works for a long time. >> right. even though the governor, rick snyder, didn't talk about it, but mary kay henry wanted to make a final point. >> i just disagree with the idea that it's wait and see. we know that ohio, missouri, kansas are all considering right to work legislation in january, and i agree with the last speaker's point. this is a 30-year assault to dismantle worker organization
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because it allows the wealthy incorporations to set low wages and put profits above people in this country, and it destroys our democracy because workers have the resources to be able to fight not just for union rights, but for environmental protections, for voting rights. >> for women. >> for protecting planned parenthood, for immigration rights, and that's why there is going to be such a systematic attack. now that they couldn't suppress the vote, they're now going to try to take worker organizations off the playing field for 2014 and 2016. >> that's a different point than i was making. i think it's much less likely this time, legislation like this. >> scott walker said today or yesterday that he will not pursue right to work legislation in wisconsin. he saw the -- >> because they're you will up in 2014. they're all up in 2014. exactly. you know, it shouldn't be lost on everyone that sciu represents a union that has a lot of women, a lot of minorities. it's the kind of entity you might want want to constantly be messaging against if you are a republican.
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thank you so much, sciu president mary kay henry. thank you for joining us. coming up, connecticut is kind of sort of one-time democrat joe lieberman bids a heart felt adu to the senate. we'll take a look at the former vp candidate swan song. next. [ female announcer ] born from the naturally sweet monk fruit,
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thanks. [ phillips' lady ] live the regular life. phillips'. for thos...this...ions of doing live the rethis...ife. ...and this, dancing in their heads... ...we have these. home depot gift cards. give the gift of doing, in-store or online. the senate is losing one of its most interesting characters with the retirement of joe lieberman, the connecticut senator, who served in the upper chamber for 24 years. first as a democrat, then as an independent, and then as a mccain-palin supporting kind of guy who killed the public option on health care reform. lieberman also had a few notes. he cast a key vote to end don't can don't tell, and here are some of his words of wisdom for the incoming 113th congress. >> and so i would respectfully
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make this appeal to my colleagues, especially the 12 new senators who will take the oath of office for the first time next month. i know how hard each of you has worked to get elected to the united states senate. i know that you work so hard because you wanted to come here to make a difference for the better. there's no magic or mystery about the way to do so in the u.s. senate. it requires reaching across the aisle and finding partners from the opposite party. it means ultimately putting the interest of country and constituents ahead of the dictates of party and ideology. >> hopefully they were listening. after the break, when evaluating the white house potential governor -- i mean, when evaluating the white house of chris christie, the governor of new jersey, weight is often more than simply the elephant in the
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room. should christie's health disqualify him from 1600 pennsylvania avenue? we'll lift that topic next on "now." to the best vacation spot on earth. (all) the gulf! it doesn't matter which of our great states folks visit. mississippi, alabama, louisiana or florida, they're gonna love it. shaul, your alabama hospitality is incredible. thanks, karen. love your mississippi outdoors. i vote for your florida beaches, dawn. bill, this louisiana seafood is delicious. we're having such a great year on the gulf, we've decided to put aside our rivalry. now is the perfect time to visit anyone of our states. the beaches and waters couldn't be more beautiful. take a boat ride, go fishing or just lay in the sun. we've got coastline to explore and wildlife to photograph. and there's world class dining with our world famous seafood. so for a great vacation this year, come to the gulf. its all fabulous but i give florida the edge.
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oh, stop it really. did you try the -- >> bacon cheeseburger was amazing. >> chris christie wouldn't be the first overweight president. william howard taft weighed more than 300 pounds. he once became stuck in a white house bathtub and needed six men, six men, to pull him out. christie would be a change from the current president who frequently plays basketball and golfs. or mountain biking enthusiast george w. bush, who i think he called that bike biky. besides the rigors of the campaign trail, there's the fitterness test to be commander in chief. there is no fitness test to be commander in chief as there is for american service members. a new report by the washington post found that obesity is a rapidly growing problem in the military. the number of active duty members to be found overweight or obese has tripled since 1998. in 200975% of applicants to the military were deemed unfit for service with obesity being the
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leading cause. we're back. so, i mean, i'm going to you first. the issue is could somebody countriedably and is it fair to have someone be commander in chief when their own troops are not allowed to serve in f they are obese and he is obese? >> first thing, i find it horrible and heartbreaking to see anyone made fun of for their weight. it's just mean. it's cruel, and it's not unusual because we live in a weight-obsess and thin-obsessed culture, and there's no question to me that a person who has a few extra pounds can be a good president or a bad president. it's not a qualification. now, what are you asking about is the politics of it, right? i talked to a big christi he fan a few months ago, one of his biggest donors and fans in new york. he said, you know, mitt romney looked like the guy who fired you. chris christie looks like you. i mean, not me personally, but people in general. you know, i'm just guessing here, but it's possible for me
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to imagine in a country where, like, weight loss shows are very popular, that people will identify with him and perhaps if they don't apir to look like him, he is -- >> who among us have not -- >> i think that's a great point, and i also lot of the way he addresses it. i love the way he is, like, yeah, i have a weight problem. i don't know why. i love that attitude, and i think that's the right way to playoff tv. >> i think there's a class bias to this conversation because, let's be honest, it's really a lot of working class and poor people are heavier now. it's because of diet. it's because of conditions in their communities. that's not exactly cris christie's story, but he is kind of a more working class person. he is obviously struggled with this. i think it could make him very sympathetic. >> relatable. >> i have a knee jerk reaction against this. >> yeah, but at the same time if you go back -- we talked about william howard taft. the president who immediately presedded him who was like killing bears with his bare hands, right, and then you have
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people like f.d.r. and j.f.k. that went to great extraordinary lengths to hide their disabilities. it's clear that with the exception of taft americans do put a premium on having a president that appears to be vigorous and appears to be healthy. they're not us. >> i don't think that's true. i think that we have not had somebody who looks like chris christie who has run in a very long time, so i think it's impossible to say. >> what about pre-diet bill clinton? >> i was going to say -- >> he had to jog and stop eating pizza. >> he didn't stop eating pizza, and bill clinton struggled with this for a very long time. the reason that bill clinton is such a voice now about obesity and about childhood obesity especially is because of his own issues with his heart problem. he had quadruple bypass surgery. he was one of the most famous "saturday night live" skits that there is. phil hartman, warlords and eating cheeseburgers. we were just speaking about it during the convention. the reality is that bill clinton was known as somebody -- he jogged, but never really changed his lifestyle until after he had
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a crisis. >> let's talk about somebody who did talk about contemplating changing their lifestyle should they decide. haley barbour from the great state of mississippi. he once said -- he said this at cpac in 2010, the political action conference, if you see i lose 40 pounds, you'll know i'm either running or got cancer, which is a really awful sort of way of saying it, but the point being, what would al gore gained a lot of weight after he lost in 2000. people said, oh, that's a signal he is not going to try again. there is a direct link that people make between the sort of vigor and healthful look of the president and whether or not they're viable in office, and is it a fairness issue when we are saying the troops they command can't be overweight? >> but he is not going to be sent into harm's way to go fight in iraq or in any new war he might start. i don't think that that's exactly a fair analogy, and i do think he is somebody who has pursued his office vigorously. he gets into fights on the jersey shore. he is very active. he is clearly able to do his
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job. >> that's probably not a -- it might be -- >> you have covered this a fair amount. is it in a strange way -- has chris christie's weight kind of helped him? image with a lot of democrats at least was quite negative, right? he is the punch a teemper guy. he is not known as the friendliest sort, at least to union people in new jersey. he has rejected a lot of federal money for things. does the weight humanize him and maybe make him more pole atable? >> i am not sure which one of you made that point, but i think that's exactly right. i think there is a -- one of the things about christie that is appealing for voters, for instance, is the springsteen thing. he is obsessed with, and it's genuine, because i've had conversations with him about this. i think that -- i think that one of the reasons he was such an asset for mitt romney in this campaign was because he did have that thing that mitt romney didn't have, which was connectivity, and so i think that his weight is part of that. i think his past is part of that. this is all who he is, and part of the christie brand is that he
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is pretty straight-talking and says it like he sees it, and i think how he discusses his weight is part of that. he has made clear he is not happy with his weight. he knows this is something that's a problem for him. i don't think that -- i think that's a different question from is this a diskwauler for the presidency? i think that's a bit of a -- >> well, you brought up springsteen. you brought up springsteen, which, of course, is chris christie's favorite person on earth who was not a fan of chris christie, but became a fan, and it's funny. chris christie was asked whether or not he would prefer -- he was given the choice whether to be commander in chief or to join the e street band, and i think you guys can guess which one he actually picked. he said he would rather be in the springsteen band. i don't know if he would fit in there either. >> he could work that. >> maybe it's a 50-50. >> sounds like the easiest choice ever. >> really. >> then again, you know, i'll let rona have the last word on this. could chris christie in a strange way, if he were to run
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as president, do it kind of as the every man, childhood obesity is an issue. we know that it's obvious that it's a huge issue in the country. could he run on the platform as i am you, and you and i are going to get together and -- >> i would think so. when you were speaking about clinton earlier, i think those krispy kremes have populist appeal. he could in a very humane way bring the issue of obesity to the table. that could actually be a selling point, and it would be a good thing if that happened. >> the other thing, he would probably have to not do is punch teachers anymore. >> violence. >> he is moving off that. he has to deal with wiedgardener. they appeared on "morning joe." this is a whole different thing in 2013. >> the new and rebranded chris christie. okay. we're going to leave it there, and i guess his prospects, i think, according to the panel are better with weight. more christie is better. coming up, it's that time of year when the president looks to restock his cabinet, but the white house hasn't exactly put
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out the help wanted sign just yet. we'll explore the president's cabinet plans just ahead. we use in a year can add up.
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how's the run? but 300 of them can be replaced with just one brita filter. it was good. thanks. brita. filter for good.
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>> so-called three amigos met with susan rice and came away a bit perplexed. about what, though, we're not quite sure. >> we are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn't get. >> bottom line, i'm more disturbed now than i was before. >> i want to say that i'm more troubled today knowing, having met with the acting director of the cia and ambassador rice. >> could the resistance to rice have anything to do with the cabinet selection hold-up at the white house? we'll discuss next on "now."
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already in the midst of one fight on taxes and spending, does president obama have the stomach for snoer? the president has yet to nominate anyone to his second term cabinet. his predecessor george w. bush had nominated seven new cabinet members, and in 1996 bill clinton had already nominated new secretaries of state in defense by november 5. jay carney on the delay. >> what is the hold-up? is there a hold-up? >> there's no hold-up. the president has made no decisions, and i have no personnel announcements to make. >> there's a reason for the late pass. any announcement would distract now from the white house's laser-like focus on its fiscal message. officially the white house insists the delayed schedule has nothing do with the current budget fight, and according to the hill, senior administration officials and others familiar
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with the process say the fiscal debate and cabinet moves are proceeding independently on parallel tracks. the biggest decision he has to make is to appoint to replace the popular hillary clinton at state? does he go for his preferred pick u.n. ambassador susan right and gerd for another fight or celts for john kerry, who is more palettable to republicans? john mccain is chomping at the bit to take on the u.n. ambassador. he even wants a seat on the foreign relations committee in order to give her a good grilling. the question for obama now to fight or not to fight? i'm going to go all the way to the right of the table to nick. should the president lay down his marker on this and say i want susan rice, damn it? >> he seems inclined to. there's an interesting mystery here of what exactly is the source of the bond between ambassador rice and the president? they -- he is really digging in, and they are sending every signal that they are going to do this, and it's going to happen,
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and they aren't going to back down. you know, i'm also thinking about how in every new term the opposition party always wants one scalp on the nominations. i know that sounds cynical. there's always at least one person who goes down, and it seems like rice is the person. >> if rice is the person that's going to go down, as nick says, does it help president obama in temz of his standing with the left if he essentially allows john mccain to bully him into not picking the person he wants? >> no, he can't allow him to bully him, but he doesn't have to do it now, joy. i really don't -- i don't buy the notion that there's no connection between this fiscal cliff stand-off and the delay in nominations. there's only so much time to deal with it, and there's only so many fights to pick. for him to be fighting on all these different fronts and being strong on all these different fronts fronts, i think could backfire. i think he will go about this see controversially, and i do expect him to nominate her and to have the fight.
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he can't let john mccain pick secretary of state. >> crystal had an interesting article in the washington post in which he talked about what the choice of whether or not to fight on rice would say about obama's second term. if we could put that up. chris wrote what susan rice can tell us about obama's second term. white house insiders make clear that obama remains genuinely undecided on who to nominate for secretary of state, and understandably so given that how he picks could well set the philosophical tone for the next four years, whether he will be accommodating or whether he is going to use brick bats to deal with the republicans. what do you think? do you think the president wants to set a tone of conciliation for the second term or do you they he wants to stand and it fight? >> i do see a digging in of the heels over this, and it's unfortunate because i think that there could have been a much smarter debate over the secretary of state position. i mean, you could argue -- i think susan rice has many advantages, but you can also argue that there are some areas that she's weaker on. i think that that's a sensible debate to have. i think kerry would be a fine secretary of state. what i don't like is i do feel
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it's becoming an idealogical battle, and it's becoming a battle that has nothing to do with who is going to do a good job, and it's a very important position because this is a very important moment for u.s. foreign policy. i think obama has done a great job at setting a stage for a new kind of multi-lateralism for the u.s. as a partner in the world, and who he picks really matters. >> it matters what the public thinks of that person. susan rice is probably someone nobody knew who she was. >> some probably think she's currently the secretary. >> what's happened is if susan rice has taken a beating. we look at her favorability now in the new nbc news-wall street journal poll -- our poll -- it shows she only has a 20% favorable rating. neutral 25%. disapproval, 24%. for someone that isn't that well known, she has been associated
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with just this fight and just benghazi. >> the biggest number at all is most people don't know enough about her to make up their opinion. as we know, the way politics worse is that absence two sides of a debate, one side will win. if there is one piece of information, it's all been pretty negative about her so far. i do think there is a risk for republicans regardless of whether they will say that if they proceed with a pretty ugly i think there are problems with terms of tone and how aggress he have the republicans want to be seen as going after her especially because so many attacks are over this benghazi issue and over talking points, and -- >> she had nothing -- >> look. her critics make other arguments, and you can debate the substance of that, but many terms of just sort of this is a very narrow cast discussion right now over a tv appearance. >> over one tv appearance.
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diversity is always an issue in the obama cabinet. just like any other administration. >> that's right. >> interestingly enough, it's been 15 years since there has been a white man as secretary of state. 15 years since we've had that. i think warren christopher might have been the last white secretary of state. second term of clinton. we've had no woman ever heading up the pentagon, cia, or treasury. on the other hand, we've only had one male as labor secretary in the last 26 years. pop quiz. >> robert reich. >> robert reich. and the chief of staff has always, always, been a white male. going after, as to your point, the black female potential secretary of state after that -- >> -- after the election we just had. it's impossible -- i think you can't divorce any of these things from any of the other things. >> quick panel, yes or no, does susan rice get the nomination? >> yes. i would say. >> yes. >> i have no idea. i have no idea. i'm out of the prediction game. >> one more. >> no. >> i want to thank you on that note to nicolas, joan, maggie, and rana.
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that is the end of the show. that's all for now. alex wagner returns tomorrow at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific when she is joined by chris hayes, melissa harris-perry, professor michael eric dyson, and dr. zinc emmanuel. until then, you can find alex on with alex. andrea mitchell reports is next. good afternoon, andrea. >> good afternoon, joy. great to see you there. thanks so much. coming up here, the country wants a compromise and do the clintons have their eye on the white house again in 2016? a lot of politics. plus, america seems to hope that the clintons do take that plunge. we'll have our new northbound news-wall street journal poll coming up. also, the international consensus is growing that syria's president's days are numbered. russia now joining in. could stronger laws have prevented that gun violence in oregon? we'll talk to brady campaign president dan gross. andrea mitchell reports is next right here. gives you 1% cash back on all purchases, plus a 50% annual bonus.
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